Fat Biker

Bicycle repair man

For 10 years of cycling, my mantra was always: “I don’t want to fix my bike, I just want to ride it.”

Let the skinny fucks at the bike shop deal with the 50-different sizes of allen wrenches, finding the weak link in the chain, and getting just the right amount of slick in the greasy spots.

But stopping my disc-brake bike started to sound like a truck right before it hits the runaway ramp. Riding through the forest near Flagstaff, it was scaring away the bears.

My friend Mark, the well-known liar and dissembler, is an engineer. We first started fiddling with the brake in his garage.

“I’ve got this,” he said, as he pulled out a bike stand from no where and had it set up in less than 60 seconds. We googled, we you tubed. We loosened the brake pads, squeezed the brakes and tighten the pads again. Better. But still loud, still rubbing.

My friend the structural engineer was baffled. Should have been a clue for me to quit now.

I got home, googled some more. Watched some British bike mechanic I could hardly understand fix some disc brakes in under two minutes. Can’t be that hard if this moron can do it.

I bought a bike stand. Had it set up in less than 60 seconds.

Bike hand stand — no assembly required. Comes with it’s own tool table.

Brimming with confidence over the successful bike stand, I decided to “sand” my brake pads. Filed the black off — down to the perfect pad brown.

Slipped them back on. Squeezed, tightened. Rubbed like hell. Loosened, squeeze release, tighten pads, rubbed a little less. Rinse and repeat 10 times, until the brakes barely, barely rubbed.

Took the bike on a ride. I was so close. Just enough rubbing to wear out the thigh muscles. Unacceptable from a shop, but good enough for me.

Had to brake hard at a red light. The squealing almost made my ears bleed.

“Just need new pads” I told myself. $40 on amazon, new pads arrived in less than 2 days.

Slip them on, rubbing a lot. Rinse and repeat the loosen pads, squeeze brake, tighten pads routine. After 20 repetitions, close enough. Hardly a rub. Slightly worse than the old pads, but they will wear down.

Went for a ride. Hit a red light. Scared the shit out of the car next to me with the screaming from my front wheel. They thought they had hit a small dog.

Put the bike back on the new “bike hand”. Loosen the pad, squeeze the brake, tighten the pad. Again, again and again. Get a towel to wipe the sweat out of my eyes. (September/Oct in Phoenix is still hot).

Just a few more times. Squeezzzeeee, liquid squirts from every corner of the brake. Fuuuuccckkkk. I’m done.

Throw the bike in the car and drive to the bike shop.

“If you got fluid on that pad and rotor – they will all have to be replaced,” the latest know-it-all skinny fuck said.

I did. They were. Plus a whole new caliper to boot. $220 later, my brakes were back. No rubbing, very little squeal.

If I had just taken it in to begin with, new pad, new rotor would have run me about half as much. This little lesson in bicycle repair? Cost me $140 for the stand, pads (I had to throw away) and at least 2 months off my life for the blood pressure spikes.

Monty Python was right. Bicycle repair man is more powerful than superman.

After all that, I’m back to: “I don’t want to fix my bike, I just want to ride it.” Kick me if I start buying bicycle parts again.

4 replies »

  1. I couldn’t help but laugh at your misfortune. But I can see how it might be embarrassing for your bike to sound like it’s running over a dog. $220 to fix bicycle brakes seems a little steep to me, though. Apparently, bicycling is not a poor man’s sport.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marketing hype bullshit!
    Disc brakes are superior to rim brakes, especially in the rain, agreed.
    We have less rain in Arizona than most places on the planet/solar system.
    I’ve never felt like I didn’t have “enough brakes” using my antiquated rim brakes.
    Good luck buying a new bike that does not have disc brakes.
    Keeping SF surly bike mechanics gainfully employed 👍🏼
    Your other engineer friend

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.